Federer, Henin, Williams sisters win at US Open
World number ones Roger Federer and Justine Henin breezed over qualifiers on Monday into the second round of the United States Open, while reigning grand-slam champions Serena and Venus Williams also advanced handily.
Three-time defending champion Federer, seeking his 12th grand-slam singles crown, opened the year’s final grand-slam event with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over 320th-ranked American Scoville Jenkins in 92 minutes.
“I’m happy to have won my first one. I’m happy I’m through,” Federer said.
“It always feels like a bit of a relief.
Now I can relax a little, maybe.”
Henin, still battling a sore shoulder, took 62 minutes to beat 145th-ranked German Julia Goerges 6-0, 6-3. She won the first set in 24 minutes, aided by Goerges’s six double faults and 15 unforced errors, and cruised to the finish.
“I’m glad to win that way. Nothing special today,” said Henin. “I was a bit concerned the last few days with my shoulder. It’s getting better but still a little scary.”
Eighth seed Serena Williams, who won her eighth grand-slam title in January at the Australian Open, showed some rust from a long lay-off due to a thumb injury but defeated Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-3, 7-5.
“I wasn’t playing my best at all,” she said. “I made so many errors out there. It was frustrating but I kept going.”
The younger Williams sister had not played since a Wimbledon quarterfinal loss to Henin. “I’m exciting to be playing tennis instead of running and practising,” she said. “It’s a relief to be playing in a tournament.”
Reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams ripped Hungarian qualifier Kira Nagy 6-2, 6-1 in 54 minutes. The 12th-seeded American, a six-time grand-slam winner, fired a main-draw women’s record 206km/h serve in the first set.
“I got really excited. I’m so stoked on breaking that record,” she said. “I wasn’t even expecting to do that at all. That’s just how it comes.”
Venus Williams next plays Romania’s Ioana Raluca Olaru, who ousted American Ashley Harkleroad 7-5, 1-6, 6-4. Serena Williams will next meet Italy’s Maria Elena Camerin, who beat Russian Tatiana Poutchek 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).
Federer (26) seeks his 12th grand-slam title in pursuit of the all-time record 14 won by Pete Sampras and his fourth US Open crown in a row. Not since Bill Tilden’s run from 1920 to 1925 has anyone won four consecutive US Opens.
Federer, chasing the all-time slam record of 14 titles set by Pete Sampras, also began his 187th week in a row atop the rankings to break the record streak as world number one that he has shared with Steffi Graf’s 1987-1991 run.
The second round foe for Federer is another qualifier, Paul Capdeville. The Chilean outlasted Germany’s Rainer Schuettler 5-7, 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-3.
Henin, seeking a seventh slam title after taking her fourth French Open title in June, next plays Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, who defeated Olga Poutchkova of Russia 6-3, 6-4.
Britain’s Andy Murray, who missed Wimbledon and the French Open, made a triumphant grand-slam return from a wrist injury by defeating Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-3, 6-0.
The 19th-seeded Scotsman fired six aces and 37 winners against four double faults and 35 unforced errors to win after one hour and 43 minutes, booking a second-round date against Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman.
“When you don’t play for such a long time at an acceptable level, it’s quite tough to stay positive,” Murray said. “That result meant so much to me. I was really happy to get through and play like that. It has been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.”
Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko and Serbian third seed Jelena Jankovic, both 2006 US Open semifinalists, advanced in straight sets, as did Serbian fifth seed and French Open runner-up Ana Ivanovic.
Jankovic (22) was nagged by a damaged left shoe in the second set but won her women’s best 68th match of the year. Despite needing seven match points, she finally subdued Slovakian Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) after 80 minutes.
“I didn’t play great. I was very nervous,” said Jankovic. “But it’s always good to get through matches like this and then you can play better and better.”
Davydenko (26) defeated Jesse Levine 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, taking full advantage of eight double faults and 47 unforced errors by the US wild card, while Ivanovic (19) ousted Japan’s Aiko Nakamura 6-1, 6-1 in 62 minutes.
Cypriot 18th seed Marcos Baghdatis was the top-ranked player to lose on day one, losing to Max Mirnyi of Belarus 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6). Spanish 21st seed Juan Carlos Ferrero lost to countryman Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Tuesday’s programme features defending champion Maria Sharapova, Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, US seeds Andy Roddick and James Blake and India’s Sania Mirza. Britain’s Tim Henman will not play his potential slam farewell until Wednesday.—Sapa-AFP